Eyewitness News

Voter economics

Wednesday, November 07, 2012
Bill Ritters daily take on the news.

Bill Ritter's daily take on the news.

My dad used to say that liars may figure, but figures don't lie.

And so remembering my father on this day-after election - and he loved talking politics and elections - I got out my calculator (okay, so no one has calculators anymore; I clicked on the desktop icon) and tried to figure out how much the candidates and the often-secretive Political Action Committees spent on this exercise in democracy we call a Presidential election.

I'm trying to do the math, and it's difficult to get an exact figure on both the nominator and the denominator in the cost-per-vote of this election. But for the sake of argument, assuming the spending was about $2 billion (it was more), with 117 million votes, that's about $17 and change per vote.

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Seems like a lot of money to convince the small sliver of people who needed convincing. And c'mon - be honest, if you voted for Barack Obama you probably knew you were going to long ago, and ditto if you voted for Romney, you probably knew you were NOT voting for Pres. Obama long before the Repubs started holding primaries, right?

So the real cost is much more than $17 per vote, because the overwhelming majority - 80 percent? 90? - didn't need convincing and so a lot of the $2 billion was really spent on the minority of undecideds.

And by way of comparison - for those who think $17 per vote is outrageous, remember that New York Mayor Bloomberg spent $174 per vote of his own money to get re-elected for a third term in 2009. (The total he spent was about $102 million.) So what does everyone get for this $2 billion in spending? A country divided pretty much along the same do-nothing lines that existed before this year-long Presidential campaign.

I'm just sayin'.

There have been some phone calls 'tween the President and the Speaker of the House, talking about this so-called fiscal cliff we're about to fall off by year's end, with the deadly combo of the Bush era tax cuts expiring and the cuts in service that are supposed to take place. But the truth is the balance of power is the same as it was  a Dem in the White House, Dems in control of the Senate, and Repubs in charge of the House.

Folks may have elected Mr. Obama to a second term, but make no mistake, this victory wasn't the 2008 victory, with its central theme of hope and change. The bloom is off that rose. Republicans can mash and naw all they want - and it will be fascinating to watch the bloviators in action tonight, beating their brows about why Romney lost and how the American electorate has changed (23 percent of the voters this time were Hispanics and African Americans, and they overwhelmingly went for the President), and why their Electoral College estimates were slightly off and. And by slightly I mean completely. Compromise from both sides is the only thing that will move these otherwise immovable pols. Can that really happen?

We're talking a closer look, tonight at 11.

Hard to imagine that the Presidential election isn't our top story, because it usually would be. But weather trumps these days, after the disaster of Hurricane Sandy. And now we're getting his with a Nor'easter, which is threatening the same people who were hit by Sandy. And those who just got power back, now might lose it again. Meteorologist Lee Goldberg leads our coverage tonight at 11.

And one more item worth chewing on tonight: A group of college students, celebrating tonight, after an initiative they drafted in their classroom was approved by voters in San Jose last night. The class project was to introduce a measure raising the minimum wage from $8 to $10 an hour. And it passed overwhelmingly.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Rob Powers with the night's sports. I hope you can join Sade Baderinwa and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER

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